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MISSION 189

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #189 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #611.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his eighth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 8 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “C” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Target Visible at Last Minute
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) formed the 41st Combat Bombardment Wing C Wing. There were broken clouds near the target area but, at the last minute, sufficient clear areas opened allowing the Norden bombsight to be used. The primary target was bombed using visual sighting, with good results.

Forty-five aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 45,

  • 30 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 4 aborted due to aircraft equipment failures
  • 2 flying spare, completed mission
  • 6 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 3 returned early

One of the aircraft landed post-mission with wounded aboard (the seriously wounded tailgunner aboard Vern Arnold’s ship – more on that below). None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “C” Combat Wing as a return trip to Ludwigshafen, home of the Chemical works of the IG Farben Industries, for the third time in the last three missions.

In Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition, 384th Bomb Group bombardier Vern Arnold described the injury to the Edgar Bills’ crew tailgunner Keith Mauck, who he described as “one of the youngest on the crew and a very likable young squirt”. Arnold offers a glimpse of the hazards of WWII bombing missions.

I guess our luck was due to run out eventually and it finally happened on this one. Keith Mauck, our tail gunner caught a nasty chunk of flak through his ankle. I suppose we should be grateful that we got him back to the base alive. We debated about landing in France and trying to get him quickly to a hospital but decided that his chances were better if we took him back to the base where we knew he would receive immediate, excellent attention. He was given morphine for the pain and the waist gunners kept a tourniquet on him to slow the loss of blood. The burst that got him was one of those nearly direct hits that exploded just under the skin of the ship near the tail. It was so close that it spilled us up on our nose momentarily.

After a harrowing return trip to base – subsequent bursts took out one engine and the oxygen system, requiring them to drop out of formation and dive down to an altitude where they could breathe, and without the protection of the bomber stream and fighter escort – Mauck required several pints of whole blood and surgery and in the end lost his foot, finishing his tour of duty.

The Buslee crew was part of the High Group led by Captain William Adelbert Fairfield, Jr.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • High Group Leader, Captain William Adelbert Fairfield, Jr., 544th Bomb Squadron
  • Major Gordon Kenneth Stallings (Lead Group Commander), 41st “C” Combat Bombardment Wing Air Commander, 546th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 29 May 1944 to 30 September 1944
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #189, with the only crew substitution in the ball turret, was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Irving Miller
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

This would be the third time Irving Miller replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret.

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-97320, Hot Rock. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0749
  • Time landed 1542
  • Target attacked at 1157 from an altitude of 29,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 6 x 1000
  • Flak at the target, below and at 9 o’clock black, white, barrage, accurate
  • No battle damage reported
  • Technical Failure, Aircraft: VHF reception on “A” channel weak
  • Crew suggestion: Relief tube needed in A/C

The original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Lead Group aboard B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory with waist gunner Harry Liniger. The crew’s other original waist gunner had previously been transferred. Liniger would fly the remainder of the Brodie crew missions in the waist position.

This was the second of eight missions for the Brodie crew aboard Kathleen Lady of Victory. 

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: Oxygen connection on right side of radio room is broken. Plugs for throat mike are both missing in waist position. Ball turret and waist guns froze at 28,000 feet. Ball turret guns have no heated covers. Tail gunner’s heated trousers inoperative. Radio operator’s jacket began smoking and continued to smoke until taken off.
  • No battle damage reported.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • No enemy aircraft observed and no attacks made on our formation
  • Flak was moderate to intense and accurate at target. CPF & barrage type of fire being employed
  • Fighter escort reported excellent

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 189
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.
  • Vern Arnold also wrote the story of his WWII experiences in his book B-17 Bombardier – A History of An Air Crew Member of the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 188

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #188 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #605.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his seventh mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 5 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “B” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

German Industry Attacked
Thirty-six aircraft of the 384th Bombardment Group (H) flew as the 41st Combat Bombardment Wing B with thirty-five aircraft attacking the primary target. All aircraft attacking were in combat wing formation and released their bombs at 200 foot interval on the Wing Lead PFF aircraft.

Forty-seven aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 47,

  • 35 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 aborted due to personnel failure
  • 4 were scrubbed
  • 1 flying spare, completed mission
  • 2 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 completed flight (weather aircraft)

Three of the aircraft landed post-mission with wounded aboard and one landed away due to battle damage. None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “B” Combat Wing as Ludwigshafen, home of the Chemical works of the IG Farben Industries.

Mission documents included additional target information:

  • Secondary Targets: None
  • Targets of Last Resort: Any military objective in Germany positively identified outside of current bomb line and tactical boundary and not adjacent to a built-up area.
  • Moderate opposition may be expected. Watch out for single and twin engine fighters, also jet jobs. Remember a good formation is the best insurance. The enemy will choose the time and place and altitude for the attack.

Mission documents also outlined instructions in the event of having to bail out for “P/W and Escape”:

  • Name, rank, serial number.
  • If in France, join our forces.
  • If in area still occupied by Nazis lay low and wait for the Allied forces or work your way to the Allied Forces with help if possible.
  • If in Germany, head for the French border and across.

This mission was a return trip to the Ludwigshafen Chemical Plant, the same as previous mission #187 just two days prior.

In Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition, 384th Bomb Group bombardier Vern Arnold again described the day.

I guess we didn’t do very well with our radar drop and since the brass consider this one very important, we are back at it again today. There were only a few tantalizing openings in the clouds and I’m afraid that we didn’t do a heck of a lot better this time. We hit the factory all right, but didn’t do as much damage as we wanted. The Germans didn’t have any trouble locating us this time and plastered us pretty good.

Arnold also expressed his confidence in his aircraft as,

Of course, if more than half of the pieces of a B-17 are still pretty close together, it will still fly!

The Buslee crew was part of the Low Group led by Capt. Edward William Lane.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Low Group Commander Capt. Edward William Lane, 384th Bomb Group Assistant Group Operations Officer
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons, Lead Group Commander, 41st “B” Combat Wing and Senior Air Commander, 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #188, with the only crew substitution in the ball turret, was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Irving Miller
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

This would be the second time Irving Miller replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret.

The Buslee crew was aboard the unnamed B-17 43-37822, the first of a trio of missions they would participate in on this ship, including their final mission. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0727
  • Time landed 1531
  • Target attacked at 1120 from an altitude of 23,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 6 x 1000
  • Flak at the target, CPF – accurate – black, white. Red flash inside of some of the black puffs.
  • Battle damage: Flak holes in the wings [possibly, see image]

Buslee post-mission report, Mission 188

The original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the High Group aboard B-17 42-97309, Kathleen Lady of Victory with waist gunner Harry Liniger. The crew’s other waist gunner, Leonard Opie, had flown his last mission with the Brodie crew on 24 AUGUST and had been transferred from the crew.

This was the second mission for the Brodie crew aboard Kathleen Lady of Victory. They would go on to fly eight missions aboard this ship and likely began to consider it “theirs.”

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Flak/Battle Damage: Top turret glass broken (flak). 3 or 4 holes in A/C (stabilizer).
  • #3 generator out. Was out at ground check.
  • Radio mike button sticks. Failed at altitude.
  • No G box in this A/C.
  • Visual observations: At time of 1121 at the target and altitude of 23,650, Brodie observed a “Big explosion. Red flames & black smoke immediately after bombs away (gas or oil?). B-17 in CBW immediately behind this one had #2 engine on fire and was last seen going down into undercast, under control. No chutes seen.”

Mission data in group reports included,

  • Fighter escort was close and very good.
  • No enemy aircraft observed or encountered.
  • Flak encountered at target only, was intense and accurate. Black, white, and red bursts noted. CPF of six to eight bursts encountered on approach to target and barrage directly over target.
  • One to two jet propelled aircraft seen in Ludwigshafen area.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 188
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.
  • Vern Arnold also wrote the story of his WWII experiences in his book B-17 Bombardier – A History of An Air Crew Member of the 384th Bomb Group

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 187

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #187 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #602.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his sixth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on his twenty-third birthday, 3 SEPTEMBER 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “C” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Chemical Works Attacked
Thirty-six aircraft of the 384th BG flew as the 41st CBW C Wing and all aircraft attacked the primary target, a chemical works at Ludwigshaven, Germany. All aircraft, in combat wing formation released their bombs at 250-foot intervals on the Wing PFF aircraft.

Forty-three aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 43,

  • 36 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 was scrubbed
  • 3 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “C” Combat Wing as the Ludwigshafen Chemical and Explosive Works, the largest and most important in Germany. Total target area is 3 mi long and 3/4 wide, stretching along Rhine River from City of Ludwigshafen, which is immediately adjacent and to SW of target to _________ (unknown?).

Mission documents included additional target information:

  • Our MPI is a square building about 125′ x 125′ lying in the lower third of the target area. This part of the target produces chlorine and sulfuric acid, both products being badly needed by Germany.
  • The Secondary Target was PFF with same MPI.
  • The Targets of Last Resort were Any military objective in Germany, positively identified outside current bomb line, and tactical boundary and not adjacent to a built up area. Caution about bombing bridges and marshalling yards.
  • Enemy aircraft may be strong.

Following a nine-day gap between missions, the Buslee crew flew as part of the Low Group led by Captain Maurice Arthur Booska.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Captain Maurice Arthur Booska, Low Group Leader, 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 7 November 1944 through the Istres time period
  • Major George Henry “Snapper” Koehne, Jr., Lead Group Commander, 41st “C” Combat Wing and Senior Air Commander
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #187 was primarily the original Buslee crew with two exceptions:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – William Alvin Henson II
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Irving L. Miller
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

On this day, William Henson filled in for Chester Rybarczyk. This would be William Henson’s first time flying with the Buslee crew. It is unlikely Henson, in the nose of the aircraft, and Farrar, in the waist, would have talked to each other on this mission, but if they had, they would have learned that they were both from Georgia.

And if they started comparing stories from home, they might have discovered a family connection, that Henson’s wife, the former Harriet Whisnant from Summerville, Georgia, grew up next door to Farrar’s Uncle Baker, his father’s brother.

Irving Miller replaced Erwin Foster in the ball turret.

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 43-38062, Pleasure Bent. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0721
  • Time landed 1538
  • Target attacked at 1133 from an altitude of 25,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 4 x 1000, 4 M17’s
  • Flak reported at the target
  • No enemy fighter opposition reported
  • No battle damage reported
  • No technical failures reported other than a radio tube was replaced in the interphone system.
  • No armament failures reported

Mission data in group reports included,

Flak at target was mainly barrage, mostly low and to the right of the formation. Many crews said they seemed to be shooting at the chaff. Rockets were seen in the target area, they came up with very little spiral and burst at the top of the arc. All burst far above the formation, with bursts larger than that of flak and of a grey-white color.

Mission participant, Bombardier Lt. Vern Arnold, reported and was recorded by Ken Decker in his book, Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition, with the following statements.

The intelligence people had picked up rumors that the Germans were getting so desperate that they might resort to poison gas, hence, our assignment to the tremendous chemical plant at Ludswighafen…

…We used “chaff” (thin strips of tinfoil) for the first time. It must have worked very well as the flak gunners were blasting away at the clouds of tinfoil and not a single burst came within a couple of thousand feet of our formation.

Lt. Edward Peter Dudock may have disagreed with Arnold’s statement about the flak not coming near the formation as he reported three flak holes in the vertical stabilizer of his aircraft, 44-6080.

Notes

  • Previous post on Mission 187
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 183

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #183 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #568.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his fifth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 24 AUGUST 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “C” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Oil Pressure
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st C Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. The 8th AF continued to decimate the enemy’s fuel supply by attacking this giant chemical complex. The C wing was to follow the A and B wings, but over the North Sea, they caught up and passed both, leading them from the enemy coast, for the rest of the mission. This was apparently due to the wings making different adjustments for cloud layers, and perhaps navigation errors. Although the 384th was prepared for a target obscured by clouds and smoke screen, there was sufficient visibility for visual bombing.

Forty-four aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 44,

  • 35 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 3 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 5 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 returned early due to flak damage

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “C” Combat Wing as a hydrogenation or water softener plant with an area of 1250 feet by 125 feet in Merseburg (Leuna). It is a new target, one that has not previously been hit. The whole of this particular target is dependent on water processed at this softener plant. Its destruction would put the target out of production.

Mission documents included additional target information:

  • The Secondary Target was a synthetic oil and thermal power station in Lutzkendorf.
  • Targets of Opportunity and Last Resort are any military objective in Germany positively identified and not disrupting fighter escort.
  • Enemy fighter opposition expected to be strong.

The Buslee crew was part of the High Group led by Major Gerald Busby Sammons.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons (High Group Leader), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Major Gordon Kenneth Stallings (Lead Group Commander), 41st “C” Combat Bombardment Wing Air Commander, 546th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 29 May 1944 to 30 September 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

Back in action after a twelve day gap since their last mission, the Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #183 was the same as the previous three missions with the exception of the assigned navigator:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Leonard Galloway
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The navigator flying with the Buslee crew on this mission, Leonard Galloway, completed his last mission and tour with the 384th on this day.

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-98000, Fightin’ Hebe. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0707
  • Time landed 1530
  • Target attacked at 1212 from an altitude of 23,800 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 10 x 500
  • Too much smoke for observed results and damage
  • Flak was accurate and intense, including at the target, with black barrage flak, white tracking flak, twin rockets, and red bursts
  • On the way to the target observed 30 ships in a convoy and several large ships anchored, and 13 large ships strung out like forming a convoy
  • German ME-109 and ME-410 attacking the group ahead
  • 2 B-17’s from group in front of this group were seen to crash
  • 5 enemy fighters were seen going down in the target area
  • On return to base, No. 2 engine acting up
  • Battle damage: Hit by flak. No. 2 & 3 engines were hit. Prop Governor hit cable. Through cylinder. Right wing flap hit (at root). Horizontal stabilizer hit. Two holes in top of nose.
  • Technical failures: Oxygen ran low. No safety wire on [Oxygen] regulators on most (transcribed in typed reports as nose) positions. Radio: Mike button shot off on nose gun. Navigator’s finger was hit, [notably, Chester Rybarczyk’s substitute, Leonard Galloway on his last mission]. “Something” on trailing antenna lost.

The original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew on this mission in the Lead Group aboard B-17 42-32106, Worry Bird (aka Voan), minus waist gunner Harry Liniger. The crew’s other waist gunner, Leonard Opie, manned the waist guns for the crew on this mission, leaving Liniger to sit this one out.

The Brodie crew reported,

  • Flak at three points during the mission including at the target.
  • Dogfights seen.
  • Battle damage of Co-pilot’s oxygen hose shot in two, and about 20 flak holes in ship.
  • Technical failures of Flux gate compass out/inoperative, bomb bay doors stay open one to two inches, and therma-couple in tail was inoperative.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • Fighter escort was good and effective. Approximately 30 to 35 miles east of Wesermunde, we observed from 20 to 30 single and twin engine enemy fighters attacking the Wing directly ahead of us. However, no attacks were made on our Wing on the entire mission.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 183
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 178

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #178 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #545.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his fourth mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 12 AUGUST 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “C” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Luftwaffe Attacked Near Paris
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st C Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. The mission proceeded generally as briefed, up until bomb release – then the bomb release on the high group lead aircraft failed to operate. The high group leader asked wing for permission to make a second run, which was granted, but the target was so obscured by prior bombing that they were unable to aim accurately. The high group then proceeded to the briefed secondary, an airfield between Étampes and Mondesir and completed a successful attack there.

Forty-three aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 43,

  • 34 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 2 aborted because of equipment failures
  • 1 was scrubbed
  • 2 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 1 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “C” Combat Wing as La Perthe, a Landing Ground actively used by the Germans, a German Air Force (Luftwaffe) target in France.

Mission documents included additional target information:

  • The Secondary Target was Etampes/Mondesir.
  • The Targets of Last Resort were Any A/D, M/Y, any bridge, any enemy column or convoy on the road, any concentration of troops or equipment not in the area restricted west of Paris.
  • Meager to moderate opposition may be expected.

The Buslee crew flew spare today, filling in for the Gilbert R. Lindberg crew when the Lindberg crew could not find the formation. They were part of the Lead Group led by Lt. Col. Alfred Charles “Coach” Nuttall.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Lt. Col. Alfred Charles “Coach” Nuttall, Lead Group Commander , 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #178 was the same as #176 and #177:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-38013, Nevada Avenger. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0610
  • Time landed 1400
  • Target attacked at 1049 from an altitude of 20,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500
  • No flak reported
  • No battle damage reported
  • Technical Failures, Aircraft: Engines: #1 and #4 cylinder head temperature gauge went out. Written up. Oxygen: Ball turret (written as Lower Ball) auto mix [Foster’s oxygen system] not operating properly; used more oxygen than when in safety position. Not written up.
  • Technical Failures, Flying Equipment and Battle Damage: None
  • Crew suggestion: Relief tubes should be put in A/C 013, none at present.
  • No armament failures reported

Mission data in group reports included,

  • A B-24 section gave us considerable difficulty, evidently crowding the Division leader and we made a 360° turn just prior to reaching the French coast.
  • We had no encounters with enemy aircraft throughout.
  • At the I.P. … meager and inaccurate flak was fired between the Lead and Low Sections after they had taken bombing interval. Nuttall’s pilot, 1st Lt. Allred reported between 30 – 40 bursts sent up. No damage resulted. No other flak was encountered during the Mission.
  • Fighter escort was excellent today.
  • The Scouting Force (led by prior 384th Commander Budd Peaslee) gave us our target weather long before we reached the target area.
  • Suggest that the Second Division not have course and departure points which practically coincide with the First Division. Such a practice causes no end of worry to Wings which must go in abreast as they did today.

Also of note on this date…

Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr, a United States Navy Lieutenant and older brother of future president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was killed on an experimental flight over England as part of a program code-named “Aphrodite.”

As part of the secret program, Joe Kennedy, Jr. was pilot on an old B-17 which was filled with explosives. After the ship was set for a pre-determined course, the pilot was to bail out, allowing the ship to crash into its target. On this day, Kennedy’s aircraft exploded prematurely and he vanished in the blast.

As the eldest son of Joe Kennedy, Sr., he was being groomed by his father to run for President of the United States. After his death, younger brother John followed the path first planned for Joe Jr., from House to Senate to the Presidency.

Notes

  • Previous post on Mission 178
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website.

Source of information on Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr.

  • Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H), Second Edition
  • Wikipedia

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 177

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #177 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #541.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his third mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 11 AUGUST 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “A” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

More Troop Support
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st A Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. Little opposition and good weather conditions permitted each group formation to bomb their assigned targets in the Brest area accurately. Note that each group was assigned a different aiming point for this mission.

Forty-four aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 44,

  • 36 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 aborted because of equipment failure and unable to locate the formation
  • 2 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 4 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 completed flight (weather aircraft)

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day for the 41st “A” Combat Wing as Brest, France for the purposes of ground support. The 384th Bomb Group website notes the target as tactical and specifically, the military target of Coastal Artillery Emplacements.

Mission documents include additional target information:

  • These targets were requested by the Army Ground Forces and it is believed that they are probably fortified positions or concentrations of personnel and material.
  • Convoys: None expected, however, crews should be briefed to be on the lookout for friendly convoys at all times.
  • Penhat A.C. Reporting Station
  • Aiming point Gun Emplacements and Observation Tower

The Buslee crew flew today in the Lead Group led by Major George Henry “Snapper” Koehne, Jr.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Lead Group Commander Major George Henry “Snapper” Koehne, Jr., 384th Bomb Group Group Operations Officer
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #177 was the same as #176:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee crew was aboard B-17 42-37822, The Lead (or Led) Banana. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 1357
  • Time landed 1920
  • Target attacked at 1725 from an altitude of 25,000 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 12 x 500
  • Flak reported as 4 Rockets at Time of 1723 at Place the target
  • No battle damage reported
  • No aircraft technical failures reported
  • No armament failures reported

The original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron flew spare on this mission in the Low Group, but joined the formation and completed it aboard B-17 42-102518, Damn Yankee, minus waist gunner Harry Liniger. The crew’s other waist gunner, Leonard Opie, manned the waist guns for the crew on this mission, leaving Liniger to sit this one out.

The Brodie crew did not report any battle damage or failures other than the radio compass was out with the indicator inoperable, the left waist gun feed belt was damaged, and the right waist interphone went out during the mission after being ok at the start of the mission.

Mission data in group reports included,

Returning crews reported rockets fired from ground leaving white and brown smoke trails following an angular course and burst at formation altitude but well ahead of formation. Rockets were reported in two concentrations, one over Brest, one SW of city. Up to 15 rockets were reported. Lead crew reports 14 in a line along the Brest waterfront.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 177
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 176

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #176 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #533.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, participated as waist gunner in his second mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 9 AUGUST 1944, flying with the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “B” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

More Bad Weather
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st B Combat Bombardment Wing – except for three aircraft from the 303rd BG, which formed the high element of the high group – on today’s mission. Although the division abandoned operations at the Dutch Coast due to bad weather, the 41st B carried on until after they had passed Aachen, at which point the weather had become impenetrable. The wing leader ordered the wing to attack the briefed target of last resort, which the lead and high groups accomplished. However, the low group’s bombsight gyro ‘tumbled’ just before bombs away, so they went on to bomb a target of opportunity (TOO).

Thirty-five aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 35,

  • 30 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 2 aborted because of personnel failure and unable to locate the formation
  • 2 were scrubbed
  • 1 ground spare aircraft was unused

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day as the,

Erding Air Depot and A/F 20 miles NE of Munich, very important Air Storage Deport [Depot] holding large stores of A/C parts and equipment. Repairs and overhaul of operational A/C are carried out in the workshops. MPI is the center of the Sq. group of bldgs. 1 3/4 mi WNW of the A/F. This is a dispersed storage unit.

The targets of last resort were A/F at Stuttgart and the shoe factory at Permarens.

The Buslee crew flew today in the Low Group led by Capt. Edward William Lane. In his Low Section Leader’s Narrative, Lane noted that they bombed a target of opportunity, a bridge at Nohfelden, Germany, over the Nahe River.

The Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Low Group Commander Capt. Edward William Lane, 384th Bomb Group Assistant Group Operations Officer
  • 41st “B” Combat Wing Air Commander Lt. Col. William R. Calhoun, Jr., originally of the 303rd Bomb Group, transferred to 41st CBW at Molesworth as Director of Operations and Executive Officer until 23 DECEMBER 1944. [The American Air Museum in Britain reports that Calhoun was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel at age 23 and Clark Gable pinned Calhoun’s silver oak leaves on him. Read more about Calhoun on their site].
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #176 was:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – James Buford Davis
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee crew were aboard B-17 44-6149, Hot After It. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Lt. Buslee at the completion of the mission described,

  • Time took off 0705
  • Time landed 1345
  • Target attacked at 1052 from an altitude of 18,500 ft.
  • Bombs on target: 6 with group, Returned: 4
  • Observed Results, Probable Damage: Poor
  • No flak reported
  • No battle damage reported

Buslee reported Technical Failures:

  • Tail gunner’s (Lucynski’s) interphone push to talk button on the gun inoperative.
  • Three (3) bombs hung up on the right inboard rack. 1 on upper station of right outboard rack.
  • Fluxgate compass inoperative.

Mission data in group reports included Armament Failures reported for 44-6149 as Four bombs returned.

With Buslee flying his first mission as first pilot, David Franklin Albrecht flew in the co-pilot position with the Buslee crew for the first time in combat.

With Clarence Seeley in the hospital recovering from his flak wound of the 5 AUGUST mission, Lenard Leroy Bryant, one of the two waist gunners assigned to the Buslee crew, took over as Engineer/Top Turret gunner for the crew.

With the death of Marvin Fryden due to flak on the 5 AUGUST mission, James Buford Davis became the Buslee crew bombardier, and flew his first combat mission of the war.

Also on this same mission with the Buslee crew, but flying in the High Group, the original members of the James Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron completed Mission #176 aboard B-17 42-31484, Mairsy Doats, minus waist gunner Leonard Opie. The crew’s other waist gunner, Harry Liniger, manned the waist guns for the crew on this mission, leaving Opie to sit this one out.

The Brodie crew did not report any battle damage or failures other than the range sites were bent on both waist guns and the tail gunner’s heated suit went out.

Notes

The James Brodie crew left crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time as the Buslee crew on their way to the ETO, European Theatre of Operations. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other after reaching England although the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron while the Brodie crew was assigned to the 545th.

The two crews participated in many of the same missions, although it is unlikely that the men of the two crews interacted in any other way as they were members of different crews and different squadrons at Grafton Underwood, although they may have recognized each other from their time at Ardmore together.

  • Previous post on Mission 176
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 173

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #173 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #519.

On 5 AUGUST 1944, the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew, of which my dad George Edwin Farrar was a waist gunner, participated in their second combat mission with the 384th Bomb Group. It was the first combat mission for my dad, who did not participate in the crew’s first mission.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “B” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

Fighter Control Center
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st B Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission to knock out a control center for enemy fighter aircraft. Intense flak at the primary target did not deter the bombers, and visual bombing conditions enabled accurate bombing.

Forty-one aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group were assigned to the mission. Of the 41,

  • 33 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 1 aborted because of equipment failure
  • 1 was scrubbed
  • 1 flying spare, completed the mission
  • 2 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 2 ground spare aircraft were unused
  • 1 had 5 enlisted crewmembers bail out when they misheard the bailout standby order

One of the aircraft landed away post-mission with battle damage and wounded aboard. None of the aircraft are missing.

In Ken Decker’s Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H) book (2nd Edition), 384th Bomb Group bombardier Vern Arnold related the story of his first mission and noted that,

Our group didn’t lose any ships, but there were so many so badly shot up that we are “stood down” tomorrow to allow the ground crews time to patch them up.

Mission documents identified the specific target of the day as the,

GAF [German Air Force/Luftwaffe] Controlling Station at Langenhagen, 6 miles north of Hannover. This airfield is believed to be producing FW 154’s. This is the German version of the Mosquito. It has been bombed as ATO but little damage had been done. Dimensions are 2000 yds E-W by 2750 yds N-S.

Also noted was that,

There were three dummy airfields in the vicinity of the target,

and enemy opposition was expected as,

Both single and twin-engine fighters may be encountered. Moderated opposition is expected.

Like the previous day’s mission, the Buslee crew flew with experienced pilot Arthur Shwery, today in the High Group led by Gerald Sammons.

The Shwery/Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • High Group Commander Major Gerald Busby Sammons, 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • 41st “B” Combat Wing Air Commander Lt. Col. William Edward Buck, Jr., 384th Bomb Group Deputy Group Commander
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Shwery/Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #173 was:

  • Pilot – Arthur James Shwery
  • Co-Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence Burdell Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

The Buslee/Shwery crew was aboard B-17 42-37982, Tremblin’ Gremlin. At the target, the group encountered intense and accurate flak, including major flak damage to the Gremlin. The Tactical Interrogation form filled out by Arthur Shwery at the completion of the mission described the destruction.

5 AUG 1944 Tactical Interrogation Form, front, as reported by Arthur Shwery

and (over),

5 AUG 1944 Tactical Interrogation Form, back, as reported by Arthur Shwery

On his post-mission Tactical Interrogation form, F/O (First Officer) A.J. Shwery indicated the location or Place of the flak as the Target, marked it as Intense, and specified it as Accurate.

In the top margin of the form (not shown in the photos), Shwery indicated that the crew landed at Hailsworth with injured, 1 serious, 2 slight.

In the form’s printed fields, Shwery did not enter the Time took off that day, but he did indicate Time Landed with the entry,

1455 at Hailsworth
Returned to GU at 2200 with another A/C

In his narrative further describing the details of the flak, Shwery’s hand-written notes included the following information.

  • Flak hit A/C [aircraft] on Bomb Run and killed Bomb. [Bombardier Marvin Fryden], Engineer [Clarence Seeley] in leg, & F/O Shwery (Pilot) were injured.
  • Bomb. [Bombardier] received first aid and toggled on lead.
  • Co-Pilot took over controls after pilot was hit and piloted A/C over target and back to Hailsworth.
  • After landing bombardier received treatment at hospital but had a relapse and died.

(Over).

  • Damage: T Turret [Top Turret] went out after target.
  • Command radio antenna shot up.
  • 106 [underlined 4 times] flak holes.
  • #4 turbo bucket wheel lost 4 buckets.
  • #3 engine hit at tgt [target] & feathered.
  • #2 engine out just before reaching Eng. [English] coast on return.
  • Right rudder shot out at target.
  • All trim tabs, oxygen, hydraulic systems also hit.
  • Bomb bay mechanism hit.
  • Returned in formation after leaving gp [group] at target and then rendezvous again.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • No enemy aircraft observed.
  • Per Gerald Sammons, “Flak was intense and accurate.”
  • Per Lead Bombardier for the Lead Group, Capt. A. Palazzo, “Approximately 1 1/2 minutes before bombs away we were hit severely by flak and I for a moment thought my bomb load might have been hit.”
  • “A/C 982 landed at Hailsworth due to major flak damage and three injured.”
  • Also per Gerald Sammons, “Bombs were away at 1302 hours from 25,500 feet…with good results.”
  • Bombing results believed to be excellent.

With Buslee in the co-pilot position, David Franklin Albrecht again did not fly with the Buslee crew. For the second time, Albrecht flew as co-pilot with the Paul E. Norton crew on aircraft 42-102459, Little Kenny.

With George Edwin Farrar manning the waist gun on this mission, Lenard Leroy Bryant, the other waist gunner assigned to the Buslee crew, sat this one out.

Marvin Fryden, the Buslee crew bombardier, died of his injuries on this, his second, combat mission of the war. Engineer/top turret gunner Clarence Seeley was seriously injured and was hospitalized. Seeley resumed flying in October and completed his tour in March 1945.

Notes

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

MISSION 171

The 384th Bomb Group’s Mission #171 was the 8th AAF’s Mission #514.

On 4 AUGUST 1944, the 544th Bomb Squadron’s John Oliver Buslee crew, of which my dad George Edwin Farrar was a waist gunner, participated in their first combat mission with the 384th Bomb Group.

The 384th Bomb Group was part of the 1st Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing, of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and today they flew as part of the 41st “C” Combat Wing.

The 384th Bomb Group website’s Mission Summary describes the mission as,

V-Weapon Laboratory Attacked
The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st C Combat Bombardment Wing on today’s mission. The long haul to Peenemünde on the Baltic – over 10 hours total flying time – was rewarded with visual bombing conditions at the primary target. Crews felt that the target area was well hit.

For the 384th, it was “a double mission day,” as late WWII historian Ken Decker called the date in his Memories of the 384th Bombardment Group (H) book (2nd Edition). On this day, forty-two aircraft were assigned to #171, the target a Crossbow V-Weapons rocket research and development complex in Peenemünde, Germany. Of the 42,

  • 36 completed the mission (not including spares)
  • 3 flying spare, returned as briefed
  • 3 ground spare aircraft were unused

None of the aircraft are missing.

Mission documents specify that the primary target was the Hydrogen Peroxide Plant at Peenemünde, a building 170 yards wide and 300 yards long. The document also noted, “This is the work that is connected to buzz bombs.”

On the second mission of that double mission day, in the afternoon, nine aircraft were assigned to #172, the target a Crossbow (V-Weapons) NOBALL (V-1 Launch Site) in Crepieul, France, but a thunderstorm at the target area resulted in no target attacked.

Assigned to the first mission of the day, #171, the Buslee crew flew in the Low Group of the 41st “C” Combat Wing, with 2nd Lt. Arthur Shwery in the cockpit providing Buslee with his first real-time combat training. According to historical mission documents, the crew took off at 0939 (9:39 A.M British time), and landed at 1823 (6:23 P.M. British time), almost a nine-hour mission.

The Shwery/Buslee crew flew under these leaders on this date,

  • Low Group Commander James Wesley Hines, 545th Bomb Squadron Operations Officer
  • 41st “C” Combat Wing Air Commander Major Gordon Kenneth Stallings, 546th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 29 May 1944 to 30 September 1944
  • Major Gerald Busby Sammons (not a mission participant), 544th Bomb Squadron Commanding Officer 14 September 1944 to 6 November 1944
  • Col. Dale Orville Smith (not a mission participant), 384th Bomb Group Commander 23 November 1943 to 24 October 1944

The Shwery/Buslee Crew Loading List for Mission #171 was:

  • Pilot – Arthur James Shwery
  • Co-Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Navigator – Chester Anthony Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence Burdell Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin Vernon Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene Daniel Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant

The Buslee/Shwery crew was aboard B-17 42-102620, De Rumble Izer, and Shwery reported on the post-mission Tactical Interrogation Form that everything went as briefed. They attacked the target at 1449 (2:49 P.M. British time) from 21,000 feet, with good results of all bombs on target. Shwery reported three incidents of flak, including flak at the target.

In other post-mission documents, Shwery reported,

  • No battle damage to his aircraft, 42-102620, De Rumble Izer.
  • One technical failure, a radio issue. The tail gunner’s interphone was inoperative.
  • No enemy aircraft.
  • No armament failures.

Mission data in group reports included,

  • Fighter escort was good except for about a half hour after leaving the target.
  • Flash Telephone Report on A.A. (Anti-Aircraft) Gunfire: Eight or more rockets were observed in the target area. They had white trails and white bursts. Three aircraft reported a huge rocket which burst behind the formation just after bombs away. It burst into a ball of fire, which broke up into 4-5 smaller balls with fiery streamers emanating from them.

With Buslee in the co-pilot position, the crew’s original co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht did not fly with the Buslee crew.  Albrecht flew as co-pilot with the Paul E. Norton crew on the unnamed B-17 42-102959.

The tenth member of the crew, my father George Edwin Farrar, did not fly this mission.  At this time in the war, the 384th assigned only one waist gunner per aircraft on missions. Bryant and Farrar were both waist gunners on the original Buslee crew, and Bryant was selected for the waist gunner position on this first mission for the crew.  Farrar did not fly with another crew.

Notes

  • Previous post on Mission 171
  • Thank you to the 384th’s Fred Preller and Keith Ellefson for obtaining and sharing WWII reports and mission documents from the National Archives for the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Mission documents and other mission information may be found, viewed, and saved or printed courtesy of Fred Preller’s 384th Bomb Group website

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg? Part 2

The continuation of “What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg? Part 1” published on May 22, 2019.

Recap:

On September 28, 1944, the 384th Bomb Group flew their Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany. Coming off the target, two B-17’s collided, 43-37822 and 42-31222 (also known as Lazy Daisy.) The Buslee crew, with my dad George Edwin Farrar as waist gunner, was aboard 43-37822. The Brodie crew was aboard Lazy Daisy. Dad told me the story of the mid-air collision many times when I was a child and he always said the reason for the collision was that the “other ship” was hit by ground fire, which caused it to veer off course and into his ship.

In the high-level group narrative documents for the mission, I discovered,

  • Bombs couldn’t be dropped on the first bomb run when another wing flew under them at the release point
  • A second bomb run had to be made on the target
  • The group was behind schedule 20 minutes
  • CPF (Continuously Pointed Fire) and barrage type flak at the target was moderate to intense and accurate
  • The Wing leader was hit by flak and the deputy had to take over the lead, causing the Lead section to break up
  • The Low and High Sections became separated from the Lead Section
  • Coming off the target, the Wing was on a collision course with another unidentified Wing
  • As reported by a 351st Bomb Group crew member, a Triangle “P” ship seemed deliberately to weave in front of the formation, creating much prop wash

Quite a bit of information was gleaned from the high-level post-mission documents, but there was much more detail about the collision in the Visual Observation section of the Tactical Interrogation Forms that each pilot filled out in the post-mission briefing, which I will add to what I have already reported.

B-17 formation flying was tricky in itself, but it became even more difficult and dangerous when things out of the ordinary happened as they did on September 28, 1944. Not that there were many “ordinary” missions, but mid-air collisions were just one of the ways a B-17 could be brought down in addition to flak from ground fire, rockets, and enemy fighter attacks.

384th Bomb Group in Formation
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

The 384th Bomb Group’s formation on September 28, 1944 was made up thirty-six (36) crews and aircraft, twelve (12) each in three groups, Lead, High, and Low. Both the Buslee and Brodie crews were part of the High Group.

Below are each of the Lead, High, and Low Groups’ formation charts, a list of each crew and aircraft, and narratives I found recorded in various sections, but mainly the Flak and Visual Observations sections, of each pilot’s Tactical Interrogation Form, along with several comments from crew members pertinent to the Buslee-Brodie mid-air collision found on the Technical Failure report.

LEAD GROUP

September 28, 1944 Lead Group Formation Chart
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

Frink, Horace Everett, Commander, and Davis, L K, Pilot, of 44-8007

Wing Leader and PFF ship was hit by flak just after bombs away. Forced to land away in Brussels due to flak damage and therefore not available for post-mission briefing reporting.

Rummel, Brian D, Pilot of 44-6476

Just after bombs away the lead ship had direct hit in #4 supercharger & the formation scattered because of his slow air speed. Two B17’s collided & both went down. No chutes seen.

Henderson, William V, Pilot of 43-38616

No observations regarding the collision, but he did note,

ME109 went down, attacked by 2 P51’s

Tracy, Edward H, Pilot of 42-97251

Saw one B17 break in half at Target. No chutes.

Salley, Thomas R, Pilot of 42-97510

2 B-17’s collided. No chutes were seen. One man came out but no chute. High Gp, High Sq.

Cepits, Francis F, Pilot of 42-107121

2 planes go down.

Duesler, Donald B, Pilot of 42-102500

2 B17’s from high group went down. One ship was hit by a direct flak burst & broke at the waist & fell on the second a/c. Both went down in flames.

Duesler also noted on the second page of the form in the “Facts concerning our a/c destroyed” section, the reasons,

flak & collision

Hassing, Eugene Theron, Pilot of 42-102501

2 A/C from high sqdn high group collided. 1A/C lost right wing, the other broke in half. No chutes seen. All parts burning when A/C fell into undercast.

Mead, Frank Willard, Pilot of 42-102620

No observations regarding the collision, but one of Mead’s crew reported on the Technical Failures report,

Two bomb runs made on 3 of the last 4 missions. Circled right through the flak today.

McDaniel, Clifford F, Pilot of 42-107125

Saw 2 ships collide – go down.

Green, Loren L, Pilot of 42-31484

No observations regarding the collision

Doran, William Elmer, Pilot of 43-37971

No observations regarding the collision

Hale, Kenneth Oliver, Pilot Flying Spare 43-38501

Filled in for Rice in the High Group – see next grouping

HIGH GROUP

September 28, 1944 High Group Formation Chart
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

Johnson, William T, Commander and Toler, Harold M Pilot, of 43-38016

Reported at the time of 1217, at the location of Helmsledt (approximately 30 miles west of Magdeburg), and at an altitude of 28,000 feet,

2 17s. One crashed into each other. Both went down.

Groff, Richard Hubert, Pilot of 43-38615

Ball turret gunner Robert Mitchell was aboard this ship flying just to the left of the Buslee ship.

2 B-17’s fr our Gp in sharp climbing bank to right #2 in Ld Sq High Gp collided with #2 High Sq High Gp. Lt. Brodies left wing hit Lt. Buslees tail and cut part of wing off & Lt. Buslee’s A/C broke off at waist.

Buslee, John Oliver, Pilot of 43-37822

Collided with 42-31222 aka Lazy Daisy

Combs, William Felix, Pilot of 42-102661

This CBW [combat wing] was pretty well scattered & 2 B17’s collided. One was OD (olive drab) color. They are thought to be from High Sqdn., High Group. No chutes seen, both planes went to pieces.

Blankenmeyer, William J, Pilot of 42-39888

Chester Rybarczyk (original Buslee crew navigator) was aboard this ship.

Group was forced to pull up to avoid collision with another group (Red diagonal strip & letter J in white triangle). Ball turret of one ship hit tail of the other, tearing off both tail and ball turret. Both ships went down. 4 chutes seen.

The group with the tail symbol Triangle J was the 351st Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the Eighth United States Army Air Force, based at Polebrook, Northamptonshire, England, during World War II.

Gabel, Raymond J, Pilot of 43-38062

James Davis (Buslee crew bombardier who replaced original crew bombardier Marvin Fryden) was aboard this ship.

2 B-17’s (384th) seen to collide rt after bombs away & fell about 50 feet & wings came off & started turning. The other spun down to 10,000 feet on fire. 3 chutes observed out of plane with wings off. None out of other.

Carlson, Walter E, Pilot of 42-97320

No observations regarding the collision, but one of Carlons’s crew reported on the Technical Failures report,

Collision of B-17s due to pilot error in evasive action after bombs away.

Rice, Robert E, Pilot of 43-37703/Hale, Kenneth Oliver, Pilot Flying Spare 43-38501

Rice turned back due to personnel illness and was replaced by Hale, Kenneth Oliver, Pilot Flying Spare 43-38501

No observations regarding the collision.

Patella, Joseph David, Pilot of 44-6141

Right after bombing, diving off target, ran into another group, lot of prop wash, formation broken up by very sharp turns & prop wash. 2 A/C – 1 from high squadron, the other unknown, collided. Both A/C broke up. No chutes seen.

Johnstone, William A, Pilot of 42-97941

A/C 222 & 822 mid air collision. No chutes seen. Both ships broke up.

Johnstone reported the observation of the collision at 1218 at the target area. He also reported barrage and CPF flak “after bombs away” at the same time of 1218.

Gross, Kenneth Eugene, Pilot of 43-38548

Co-pilot Wallace Storey, who after the war reported Brodie’s plane almost hitting him and seeing it hit Buslee’s plane, was aboard this ship.

No observations regarding the collision reported, but Gross did report tracking black flak at the target area.

Brodie, James Joseph, Pilot of 42-31222

Collided with 43-37822

LOW GROUP

September 28, 1944 Low Group Formation Chart
Courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

Booska, Maurice Arthur, Commander and Bean, Donald W, Pilot of 43-38542

2 B17s from High group collided & both fell apart & went down in flames. No chutes.

Reported accurate CPF flak, black gray, big brown bursts at the same time as the observation of the collision at 1211.

Sine, George H, Pilot of 42-38013

2 A/C from high group in collision. 1 broke in half at radio room. A/C clipped wings went down in spin, then hit again. One broke up. Possibly one chute seen.

Hicks, Ralph B, Pilot of 42-102449

2 A/C in our Hi Group collided and blew up. No chutes seen.

One of Hick’s crew reported on the Technical Failures report,

It is thought that 2 A/C in high group collided because lead group formation scattered when lead A/C left formation at target area.

Goodrick, Gene Robert, Pilot of 44-6135

No observations regarding the collision reported.

Majeske, Charles P, Pilot of 42-37788

No observations regarding the collision reported, but he did record accurate tracking black white flak all around A/C [aircraft] at the target.

Brown, Bert Oliver, Pilot of 42-38208

No observations regarding the collision reported, but one of Hick’s crew asked on the Technical Failures report,

Why were two wings making run at target at same time?

Rowe, George B, Pilot of 44-6105

2 Gp A/C crashed. Silver A/C cut in half at radio room & wings folded off. OD (olive drab) just went straight down & disappeared in overcast. 1 chute seen from silver A/C.

Keller, Marion W, Pilot of 43-37990

Saw 2 B-17 collided. One came from 7 o’clock, other from 4 o’clock & appeared to collide sideways. Both went down. No chutes seen. No additional info. No markings seen on tails. Too far away.

Owens, Robert Clare, Pilot of 43-37843

No observations regarding the collision reported, but he reported,

2 E/A (enemy aircraft) shot down by escort and P-51 blown up by flak over target.

Farra, Robert L, Pilot of 44-6294

Below barrage. 2 planes collided above us.

Wismer, Richard Glen, Pilot of 42-32106

Was not in the formation at the target. Returned early. Aircraft suffered mechanical failure; bombs dropped at 50°45’N,9°25’E, Germany, in enemy territory with unknown effect. Returned to base.

Fahr, John, Pilot of 42-107148

2 B-17 collided High Gp. High Sq. Both A/C went straight down. No chutes were seen.

Summary

In addition to the information I learned from the high-level post-mission documents, I also learned,

Reported Causes of the Mid-air Collision

  • The Wing Leader was hit by flak and his air speed slowed, causing the formation to scatter (Rummel)
  • Lead group formation scattered when lead aircraft left formation at target area (Hicks crew)
  • One ship was hit by a direct flak burst (Duesler). [There were many reports of flak at the target and the Wing Lead was undoubtedly hit by flak. Duesler’s is the only reported visual observation of Brodie’s ship being hit by flak.]
  • Group forced to pull up to avoid collision with another group (351st Bomb Group) (Blankenmeyer)
  • Right after bombing, ran into another group, a lot of prop wash, formation broken up by very sharp turns and prop wash (Patella)
  • Pilot error in evasive action after bombs away (Carlson crew)

Reported Collision and Damage

  • 2 B-17’s collided
  • Both went down
  • One B-17 broke in half
  • Ship hit by flak broke at the waist and fell on the second aircraft (Duesler)
  • 1 aircraft lost right wing, the other broke in half (Hassing)
  • Lt. Brodie’s left wing hit Lt. Buslee’s tail and cut part of wing off; Lt. Buslee’s aircraft broke off at waist (Groff)
  • Ball turret of one ship hit tail of the other, tearing off both tail and ball turret (Blankenmeyer)
  • 1 broke in half at the radio room (Sine)
  • Silver aircraft (Buslee’s) cut in half at radio room and wings folded off. Olive Drab aircraft (Brodie’s) went straight down and disappeared in overcast (Rowe)
  • Wings came off and started turning; other spun down on fire (Gabel)
  • Burning when fell into undercast

Chutes Seen

  • None
  • One man came out, but no chute (Salley), [likely Brodie crew togglier Byron Atkins]
  • 3 out of plane with wings off (Brodie’s); none out of other (Buslee’s) (Gabel)
  • 1 from silver aircraft (Buslee’s) (Rowe)

Why did the Brodie crew’s B-17 collide with the Buslee crew’s B-17? Many factors led to the disaster including a need for a second bomb run due to another wing flying underneath at the target on the first run, slightly being off schedule, the wing lead being hit by flak on the second run, slowing air speed, the deputy taking over and the formation breaking up, very sharp turns and prop wash, finding themselves on a collision course with another group coming off the target, a possible direct flak hit on Brodie’s aircraft, flak at the target, or just plain pilot error in a critical situation.

What happened to the two B-17’s of Buslee and Brodie? After the collison, at least one broke in half at the waist or near the radio room. The tail of Brodie’s was cut off as was Buslee’s ball turret. One or both lost one or both wings. They were both burning as they spun or fell into the undercast.

Was there any hope of survivors? Most witnesses did not see any chutes, but three were reported out of Brodie’s aircraft and one out of Buslee’s. One man was seen coming out of Brodie’s aircraft with no chute. The three survivors on the Brodie crew were waist gunner Harry Liniger, tail gunner Wilfred Miller, and navigator George Hawkins. Togglier Byron Atkins was likely the man seen coming from Brodie’s aircraft without a chute when he was knocked out of the nose. My dad, George Edwin Farrar, was the one chute coming from Buslee’s aircraft.

Do I know much more now than I did before I saw the mission reports? Yes and no. The story, causes, and result of the mid-air collision mostly remains the same for me. But Donald B. Duesler, pilot of 42-102500, has provided me with the possibility that Brodie’s ship was hit by flak like my dad always said before it ran into his ship. (Although Duesler’s report seems unclear as to which ship was hit by flak as it was Buslee’s ship, not Brodie’s, that broke at the waist).

The families of the fourteen men who died on the two ships never really understood what happened to their boys, and I’m still not sure I really do either. Was it pilot error, was it flak, or could Lazy Daisy have suffered some sort of malfunction at a very inopportune moment? My next research will be into Lazy Daisy’s mechanical failures history and I’ll report what I find in a future post.

Thank you to Keith Ellefson and Marc Poole for helping me decipher the handwriting of the pilots on their Tactical Interrogation Forms!

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019